Five former members of the Rabinal Civil Self-Defense Patrols (PAC) are facing legal proceedings for alleged systematic rape of 36 women achí of the Mayan town of the municipality of Guatemala. Almost 40 years ago, the paramilitary groups created by the country’s military government were involved in a controversial event that has lasted until today, when they begin to be judged.
Paulina, one of the victims, tells the BBC that the patrolmen intercepted her and took her to a military detachment in the region. They weren’t in uniform, and she wasn’t the only woman there. “As soon as I arrived at the detachment, they asked me, ‘Where is your husband?’ I told them that I didn’t have a husband and they replied: ‘You are going to meet your husband later’”. After, the paramilitaries took advantage of and abused her.
“These women were illegally detained and taken to the military detachment where they were victims of public and continuous sexual violations,” Xiloj told the BBC. It was 1983, and from that night, another 24 days followed.
During almost a month that she was locked up in the military detachment, she was the victim of harrowing acts of sexual violence. And like her, 35 other women. “We have been waiting for 40 years for justice to be done for the sexual violence and the horrors we suffered during the internal armed conflict in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz.”
The victims hope that their story will be known and justice will be done. The trial was to begin on January 4, but was delayed for another day. Last Wednesday, the prosecution and the defense declared, and with the accused following the process remotely, by teleconference. “I am looking for justice, and we are not going to recover everything that was stolen. But what they did hurts me.”